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Spacecraft


— Space

NASA'S MESSENGER mission finishes with a bang

By - April 30, 2015 2 Pictures
NASA'S MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft has ended its phenomenally successful mission in the most fitting manner imaginable. The probe, which had maintained a lonely vigil over the desolate planet for more than four years, smashed into the surface of Mercury, the planet that had surrendered countless secrets to the robotic explorer this Thursday at 3:26:02 pm EDT. Read More
— Space

NASA to test atomic clock to keep space missions on time

By - April 30, 2015 3 Pictures
If you thought the Apple watch was something to write home about, take a look at NASA's Deep Space Atomic Clock (DSAC). This miniaturized, ultra-precise mercury-ion atomic clock is described by the space agency as "orders of magnitude more stable than today's best navigational clocks," and is smaller and more accurate than any that's been previously sent into space. In 2016, it will fly on a test mission to demonstrate a technology that NASA sees as key to a number of high-priority Earth-orbit and deep space missions. Read More
— Space

ESA to collaborate with Japan in daring asteroid mission

By - April 29, 2015 2 Pictures
ESA has announced its intent to aid the Japan Aerospace and Exploration Agency (JAXA) with its ambitious Hayabusa-2 mission to retrieve material samples from an asteroid, and return said samples to Earth by the year 2020. Following a successful launch last December atop a H-IIA rocket, the probe will now benefit from 400 hours of tracking and telemetry from ESA's 35 m (115 ft) diameter dish at Malargüe, Argentina. Read More
— Space

Hall ion thrusters to fly on X-37B spaceplane

By - April 28, 2015 3 Pictures
The US Air Force's most public secret, the X-37B unmanned spaceplane, is now a little less top secret. The Air Force has revealed that when the Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV) 4 mission lifts off from Cape Canaveral AFB on May 20, it will be carrying a Hall thruster as part of an experiment to improve the design for use on Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) military communications spacecraft. Read More
— Space

ESA's Sentinel-2A satellite arrives in French Guiana ahead of launch

By - April 27, 2015 2 Pictures
ESA's Sentinel-2A satellite has arrived safely in French Guiana, ahead of its June 12 launch atop a Vega rocket. It was carried in the belly of an enormous Russian-made Antonov cargo plane, and protected within a specially-constructed air conditioned habitat. Once operational, the satellite will represent a cornerstone of the agency's Copernicus program, which is striving to revolutionize how we observe and understand our environment, and how we may be able to tackle the detrimental effects of climate change. Read More
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